Caught in the Web with a Narcissist... What Now?
By SRUTHI RAVINDRAN
Last week, a young 25 year old girl came in for therapy. She was living with a husband who made her feel like she was constantly ‘walking on eggshells’ – A term that is used to describe the build-up of tension caused by someone with a narcissistic personality.
Once in a while, chances are you may have met someone who appears to be insensitive to the needs of others, is so arrogant that they live life by the motto ‘My Way or the Highway’.
Narcissism Around Us Looks Like…
– That guy or girl who swept you off your feet and then could not stand it when you got some attention.
– That manager at your workplace, who has a grandiose idea about themselves, throws abusive words and treats people like doormats.
– That family relative who is always loud and insists that he/she is always right all the time.
– That student who bullies and is always on the lookout to prey on a vulnerable child which is a perfect boost for their ego.
( P.S. This is not intended to be a clinical diagnosis and traits displayed by a narcissitc individuals may overlap with those seen in borderline personality disorders, substance abuse, impulse control disorders, sociopathy, individuals with anger issues etc. )
Narcissists Vs Empaths
What is particularly interesting for me is the relationship between an empath and a narcissist.
An empath is someone who is extremely sensitive to another’s needs and goes the extra mile to be kind to people. And the narcissist? Your guessed it, the polar opposite! They have a grandiose idea about themselves, often loud, manipulate people into doing things their way, have a constant need to be right all the time, seeks admiration round the clock and cannot handle an ounce of criticism.
So How Did This Relationship Happen?
At first the narcissist sees someone so beautiful who could give them all the love they have been looking for. And then boom – you get love bombed. The empath is put on a pedestal and feels so lucky to have found the person of their dreams. Slowly they let their guard down and plunge into it. And then they let their guards down. The narcissist wants a say on everything– the clothes you wear, who you speak to, when to make a phone call, how you are in bed and what to say etc. The priming happens gradually. The true colors become visible, but you say “Oh after all, nobody is perfect.” The clock keeps moving and by the time realization hits, it’s too late to run for your life. It feels like a trap!
The empath will feed the ego of a narcissist which is great for the narcissist, but end up losing their identities and burn out. Their relationship is so powerful, yet toxic. This is no child’s play!
Not many people understand this intensity unless you have lived with such an individual – relationship, marriage, managers, co-workers, friends etc.
So What Do You Do?
1. Recognize the signs – of narcissism and understand what triggers the cycle of abuse. It is going to be hard but at least you would know what to expect and how you can look for a safe space.
2. Get all the help you can – Family, friends, therapists, lawyers who ever you need to care for your fragile soul. Make them understand who you are dealing with. If you were married to a narcissist and planning a divorce, then you need a lawyer who understands this condition.
3. Prep for the worst – If signs of abuse are on the rise, go ahead and feel free to record phone calls, video proof or anything you may need to prove yourself in the court.
4. Run for your life – If that’s an option. This is no game for the long run and you could be set up to fail. Attempting to be assertive may only make things worse. This is no ordinary person you are dealing with.
5. Begin healing –I’ve seen individuals falling into depression and being traumatized after a relationship with a narcissist. You could opt for psychotherapy or counselling and make sure you stay committed to working on yourself.
6. Rituals are key – The basics never go wrong – good sleep, healthy diet, exercise, sunshine, mindful living and meditation, a passion to follow ( arts/ sports etc.) are a few things for a healthy mind, body and soul.
7. Draw boundaries – Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and make your life all about them. Invest time in yourself, stand up for your beliefs and don’t be afraid to apologize when you are wrong. You don’t need to turn into another narcissist.
8. Tip Toe & Exit – That’s right. You don’t want to make too much noise. Keep the drama out because narcissists will do everything to get back at your or win your attention with their games. Leave quietly and focus on preserving your energy.
9. Finding The Good – Underneath all the big image is someone who just wants love and feels insecure. They may not be a bad person but they just need help perceiving the reality. So if you decide to stay, then help them through the journey. Of course, without compromisng your soul!
Note : If you are in a relationship with someone who has traits of narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder, that does not necessarily make you an empath. That being said, it is still not easy managing a relationship with such an individual.
If you are in a difficult relationship or struggling to get yourself on track, feel free to reach out to The Happy Space to begin your healing journey today. Reach out by clicking here.